Protected areas according to IUCN

Today protected areas are formally indicated as “land and/or sea areas specifically dedicated to the protection and preservation of biological diversity and related natural and cultural resources.”
According to the classification by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the greatest world organization for the preservation of natural areas, six different general types of protected areas have been devised which reflect different degrees of exposure to human disturbance.
The latter are defined as follows:

  • Integral nature reserves and uncontaminted areas
  • National parks
  • Natural monuments
  • Reserves for active management of species, habitats and natural resources
  • Protected landscapes and seascapes
  • Areas for sustainable management of resources

Let’s have a closer look at what these definitions mean.
Integral nature reserves and uncontaminated areas
In these areas all species and resources are meticulously protected. The goal is to prevent any possible human interference, banning activities of all sorts. The purpose of these areas, infact, is to preserve completely biodiversity living within them, guaranteeing total isolation from industrial and anthropized areas. These areas constitute open air ecological laboratories, where the only activity allowed, when holding specific authorization, is indeed scientific study of natural processes.
National parks
National parks are the most famous protected areas. Generally, in these parks all activities related to resource extraction aren’t allowed as well as every initiative potentially harmful for the environment which must be carefully authorized, planned and controlled. National parks cover wide areas and often comprise very different and interesting habitats. For this reason, among their peculiarity, is to be the favoured destination of natural excursions of many school pupils and university students. On the other hand, their heritage plays such an important scientific role that besides aesthetics these places always deserve a visit.
Natural monuments
In this case we are dealing with relatively small-sized areas where, although, it’s necessary to establish a protection scheme due to the presence of biological and/or geological formations of particular interest or historical and artistic relics of high cultural value.
Reserves for active management of species, habitats and natural resources
These areas have a similar purpose to integral nature reserves. The difference lies in the fact that initiatives regarding maintenance of natural environment are tolerated, as some silvicultural practices, management of problematic species, and a few others. In this type of reserves, moreover, some low-impact activities for the environment can also be authorized.
Protected lanscapes and seascapes
These are land and sea areas where limits to human activities are more flexible. De facto, in this tipology of protected areas, all activities related to local traditions are allowed as long as use of natural resources is modulated. Often these resorts offer good opportuinites to create a non-agressive forms of tourism and recreational activities compatible with the environment. In this category are typically numbered areas inhabited by small communities which live off fishing, local agriculture and ecological tourism.
Areas for sustainable management of resources
This definition indicates very wide areas where the balance between the use and the lack of use of resources is in favour of the first. In other words, the principle of controlled use of nature is favoured rather than strict protection. In there areas, therefore, there is important biodiversity but at the same time, where possible, sustainable extraction of raw materials is allowed, both of biological and abiological origin, under the condition that these activities are undertaken respecting the process of the time and manner of their natural renewal.

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